I remember an old saying,”if you wanna make God laugh, tell Him what you have planned for your life.” It was only about 3 months ago that I moved here to Dallas from Detroit; I thought I had it all figured out. After 2 months of living in my car, sleeping in a Walmart parking lot, and sneaking into the middle school where I worked as a custodian to shower before school opened every day, I accepted an invitation to Dallas to start my life over. I was offered an apartment rent free, until I got on my feet and an opportunity to meet people who were making moves in the indie film community. Well, after only a month here I had a job that started me off with decent pay; more than I was making after a year as a custodian and an apartment to call my own; Life was good! That is, until about a week ago when I received a phone call from my landlord telling me that I was being evicted from my apartment because the friend I was giving my rent money to wasn’t actually paying the rent.
Now this is usually the part where I would start naming names and pointing fingers, but– I can’t. Because I realize that there was truly no one to blame but me. I had to see for myself the error of my ways. I put my faith in someone other than God. I am in no way saying that no one can be trusted, but I realize now that you can only trust people to be people. So, here I am…no family…no friends…no car…nowhere to lay my head, but for some reason I’m not afraid. I know that everything we go through in life, good or bad, is for a reason. I know that God is with me. And while I know there will be good days and even more bad ones…God will see me through. 1/24/2013
This passage is not an excerpt from an upcoming novel; It’s not a page from a new screenplay I’m working on. This passage is the first entry from my personal journal. On January 24, 2013 I was officially homeless. A fact that only a handful of people knew; a fact that my family and some of my closest friends will only now find out about after reading this post in my blog.
Six months of my first year living in Dallas, TX were spent on the streets. While I made enough money with my new job to eat and occasionally rent a room at the local Motel 6, I couldn’t afford an apartment and after my recent experience with someone whom I considered a friend, I couldn’t imagine taking any chances subletting from a total stranger. It was at that moment I had a choice to make: Give up and retreat back to Detroit or stay in Texas and accomplish what I came here to do; I chose to stay. Not because I’m brave, not because I knew without a doubt that I would be okay. I chose to stay because I was desperate; desperate to succeed. Desperate for something better. I also knew that if I were to return to Detroit, my life was over.
For six months I held a steady routine: Weekends were the toughest; most Saturdays I rented a room at the Motel 6 and simply slept. Sundays I lived at Starbucks working on my film and writing. During the week I worked from 8-5; the local Wendy’s from 5:30-9 where I ate and worked on my film and writing; and from 9 until the next morning I wandered the streets, searching for anywhere I could lay my head in peace.
Peace–something I took for granted for so long, before now.
The first 3 months were probably the hardest to get through, because everything else aside, the cold kept me from sleeping more than 2-3 hours a night.
I remember it being so cold some nights, I literally walked for hours just to stay warm.
One night I was apparently sleep walking across a busy intersection, it being so long since I had actually slept, and all I remembered was standing, oblivious, in the middle of the street, flashing sirens, and being questioned by the police who told me that I was almost hit by a car. They assumed, understandably, that I was either high, drunk, or both. I finally convinced them that I was in fact sober and they left me to go on my way, but not before warning me that if they saw me again I would be arrested.
This was the first time I broke down and cried. It was also the first time (of many) that I thought about taking my life; I wanted to stop hurting. I wanted to stop struggling. I wanted to die.
I honestly don’t know what it was that stopped me from killing myself; call it fate, call it divine intervention, or just pure stubbornness, but I kept going. For 3 more months, I kept going. I tried the homeless shelters, but because of the fact that I got off of work so late everyday and they only took a limited number of men, I was left out in the cold (literally). Eventually, I found a park nearby my job that was seemingly empty most nights with the exception of the occasional straggler.
For the next 3 months I slept on park benches, bleachers, and the jungle gym, cautious to make sure I was up and at work early enough to bathe in the sink before the rest of the staff got there each day.
Most nights I spent praying, looking to the sky for any hint of God’s presence.
Fast forward almost a year and over a hundred journal entries later and while I’m not where I am “going” to be, I am truly thankful to God for where I am: I have a better job, my own apartment, I have spoken to (and more importantly forgiven my friend), I am on the brink of self-publishing my 1st novel “The Rape Diaries” and in the middle of a fundraising campaign for the short film that I spent those long, lonely nights at Wendy’s working on: “The Monster In My Closet“
Why am I sharing this? Why now; Especially since I have never before been so transparent with my life? Honestly I don’t know.
I have had people who were privy to this dark time in my life have the audacity to call me brave. Some had the nerve to claim that they admired me for what I was doing. I admittedly am far from deserving of any such title. I am in no way brave or admirable for what I went through. Crazy? Perhaps; Desperate? Absolutely! But nothing that I did, nothing about me warrants admiration. Because if faced with the situation again, I honestly believe my decision would be one of cowardice and surrender.
I prayed that God would one day give me the courage to confess this part of my life because I honestly believe that the things we go through in life are not merely for us alone.
I know right now there is someone…somewhere struggling. I know that right now there is someone…somewhere going through, wondering if there is a light at the end of the tunnel. DISCLAIMER:I am no poster boy for righteous living. I am by no means one of God’s favorites, but for some unexplainable reason, He chose to allow me to make it through and I know if He would show favor to a wretch like me, then He would definitely do it for someone else. I pray that somehow, someway my story will find that “someone else” and provide even the slightest glimpse of hope. I pray that my struggles, my pain, my heartbreak, and my inevitable success will convince that “someone else” that no matter where you are…no matter what you are going through..YOU are CLOSER than you could ever imagine to your BREAKTHROUGH.
These are NOT words from some highly sanctified preacher with the anointing of prophecy; these are NOT the words of some righteous man of God who has lived a life of strict servitude and adherence to His word; These are NOT the words of a deserving man who has done his best to follow Christ…no. These ARE the words of a man who has lived a continuous life of ups and downs; bad judgements; and while believing in and seeking to strengthen his relationship with Christ has ultimately done little to deserve God’s favor. So please know that the words I utter are not from a place of vain empathy, but of sincere understanding. You are forever in my prayers…
This blog post is dedicated to all those who (knowingly or unknowingly) kept me going and inspired during this dark period in my life (if I forget you please charge it to my head and not my heart (I swear I tried to name you all): Jesus; Linda & Damieon Ranson; Stacy Reid; Gelita Mimms; Kenyetta Hughes; Gregory Smith; Chris Sutton; Jeremy Brockman; Devin Laster; Dina Peace; Stacey Muhammad; Trina Hughes; Chiquita Tate; Mike & Terry O’Neal; Angel Scott; Valerie KaylaVal; Tinisha Brugnone; Hiram Damwijk; Nichelle Payne; Rochelle Baker; Anna Richardson; Emily Ann-Johnson; Sheree Johnson; Tiffany Marshall; Elaine Flowers; Lorenzo Lollar; Tekeya Bell; Sharice Henry Chasi; M. Legend Brown; Brooke McCoy; Tyler Perry; Christian Knight; Mianna Adufutse; Fredrick Thornton; Keenan Tindle; Wendy Readous; Elizabeth Atkins; William McDowell; Kirk Franklin; Samatha Drane-Smith; TI; Eminem; Joan Morris; Shawntay Dalon; Carmen Adolphus; Yolanda Brinkley; Kimmy Chappell; Joel Olsteen; Bishop Anthony Claxton; Antoinette Dawson; Robyn Peoples; Fallon Marie; James Drane; Tiana Bonner; Albany Williams; Tiffany Price; Benita White; Cynthia Peete-Frailey; Jahimnah Harris; Linda Council; Tiffany Bargainer; Roxanna S. Brown; Jamaine & MarquitaBurrus; Chico Pye; Tanisha Stanley; Angela Mapp; Sheryl Brown; Nikki Marie; Ava DuVernay; Denise Drane (my mommy); Willie Rodgers (RIP); The Johnson/Drane Clans & the one Ponder (La Familia); Tishonah Johnson (my baby girl)